I was completing the survey over at I have touched the sky (which seems to only be viewable in google reader) about gender equality, discrimination and all that jazz. While completing the part about character options I had a thought that it wasn’t really the female characteristics that bothers me in many games, it is the complete lack of any female option that really makes my hackles rise. So Watch out as feminazi views are incoming.
Those of us gamer girls who enjoy the mmo scene are usually quite lucky we have options available limited or not, to create a female character (although creating different ethnicities is usually a greater stretch) but in many other genres this is not even possible. I have been playing shooters for over a decade now and I never really even thought about the fact there was no option to play a female. Many of the older games never even had character options more advanced then simple colour swaps so it wasn’t really a mode of thought that anything else was even possible.
After playing that very first resident evil I can tell you it makes a HUGE difference to an impressionable mind. Even though I was probably not absorbing the sub text of my own actions it felt empowering to be the one in control and it honestly made me want to continue further and further down that rabbit hole of gaming. That feeling of strength, gaining control of the situation and of saving the day… It instills that sense of power men have been enjoying for years in absence of other themes. It is sad that I am trying hard to come up with another example of the fact but just can’t make one (sorry Lara croft although great, really isn’t the same).
Getting back towards the current market it really is just as stifled as the past but the one glaring fault I see now is that there is a huge whole in the options for multiplayer match-ups. I can forgive the exclusion when it comes to their fabled single player explosion simulator but when it comes to the part people play the most it becomes an issue. Appearance customisation is actually getting quite extensive recently with different facial features being available, not to mention options for just about everything else but nary a female model to be seen.
We are undeniable past the point of no return in terms of a patriarchal society and a view of men being the protectors of females. It is the modern age now with women being involved in every industry, even on the front lines of combat. So while the developers of these big name fps’s may have well meaning intentions of saving the female image from the horrors of pixelated war, in reality it just comes off as condescending and in the end is just plain nothing else but purely discriminatory… If however it is all an oversight, well that is far worse.
Going by the current generation of “men” entering the game industry I really don’t have high hopes for the immediate future. Although in the future we may even get an iteration that doesn’t involve shorts and a tank top… god bless you Planetside 2.